Finding One’s Own Unique Contribution

“All the wise men came — those performing all the sacred work, each of them from his sacred work they were doing…”
(Shemot 36:4)

In the construction of the Mishkan, there were many different types of contributions. The parashah outlines all the materials and also explains how they were utilized. Some gave gold and others silver or copper. The necessary wools and skins, as well as high-quality lumber, were also donated.

The task of fashioning the raw materials into the structure and its utensils were also realized through the efforts of a vast array of volunteers who donated their skills. Carpenters, metal workers, tanners and tailors all had to utilize their special abilities to complete the task at hand. Women also came to do embroidery, spinning and weaving. In summary, the passuk says, “All the wise men came … each of them (performing) from his sacred work.” Chazal expound, “From his work he did and he did not do his friend’s tasks.” (Shabbat 96b)

If all the people on Earth were construction workers or if everyone was a farmhand — or perhaps all workers were architects or doctors — or even if all men were Torah scholars or Roshei Yeshivot — would the world be better off or lacking? Of course, the result would be a disaster! The world needs all types of people with a vast variety of talents and skills. Even the greatest human being cannot survive without the contributions to his health and well-being contributed by the simplest of folk. Hashem has created “nefashot rabbot v’chesronam” — many souls with their shortcomings (i.e., needs). Everyone is dependent on a great number of others to survive.

There are times when one is down due to jealousy of a successful friend or relative. We ask, “How is it that he or she has achieved great success in spiritual or material endeavors?” or “How is it that I have not succeeded to the same degree?”

Some might explain that this is healthy jealousy known as “kinat sofrim,” jealousy of scholars, which prompts one to work harder to achieve. That might be true, but it is also possibly the work of the evil inclination working to depress a person into a state of inactivity.

Reb Zusha once said, “My Creator will not bring me to task for failure to achieve all that Moshe Rabbeinu did. He will reprimand me for not becoming all that I could have become!” This is the intention of our Sages in stating, “From his work he did and he did not do his friend’s tasks.” Hashem does not expect one to do that which one is not capable of doing. What Hashem demands is that an individual use his/her Hashem-given talents and abilities to do all that that individual is capable of achieving.

Self-assessment and a desire to do Hashem’s Will without reference to another’s success will yield the focus needed to succeed in Hashem’s individual assignment. Take the time for self-evaluation and the result of your study will increase your potential for success.

Shabbat shalom.